Buckle basks in shock success

Luton are determined to savour their success after returning from the brink to become the first non-League side in 24 years to beat top-flight opposition in the FA Cup.

The Hatters, who have spent much of the last 20 years battling oblivion and financial woes and now reside in the Blue Square Premier, entered the fifth-round draw with a 1-0 victory over Norwich yesterday at Carrow Road.

“This is an incredible achievement,” Luton manager Paul Buckle said. “The club’s had some really bad days over the last few years, so I’m absolutely thrilled for the board, the fans and the players.”

The 1959 finalists and 1994 semi-finalists emulated Sutton, who in 1989 beat top-flight Coventry, after a turbulent recent history.

Buckle added: “We’ve embraced the club’s history. That’s something I’ve been keen to do.

“We’re very aware of our history, but we are keen to add to it.

“We have (added to it). Hopefully now everyone can start believing that we are good enough.

“I can enjoy this for a little while, but I’ve got to try keep taking the club forward.”

Luton, 85 places lower in the football pyramid than their hosts and in contention for a Football League return, named 10 of the players which beat Wolves in the third round.

But it was three substitutes who combined in the 80th minute as Scott Rendell converted JJ O’Donnell’s cross following Stuart Fleetwood’s pass, sending 4,000 travelling fans delirious.

The visitors were more than a match for Norwich throughout and Buckle, whose side next play at Grimsby in the FA Trophy fourth round on Tuesday, hopes for another top-flight test in the fifth round.

“After that experience we’d dearly love to play a Premiership club again,” said Buckle, who is keen to add to his squad.

“This is where everyone wants to be. This is where a few of my players want to play, the coaching staff, myself, this is what we’d love to be doing on a regular basis.

“Hopefully now this will make us believe that we’ve got a really, really good squad.

“Both games now, Wolves and Norwich, there wasn’t a lot of fluke about it. We weren’t holding on for dear life.

“Hopefully now we can take a lot of belief from this.

“I’ve been fortunate in a few years of management to have some good highs. This is right up there.”

For Buckle’s Norwich counterpart, Chris Hughton, his old team-mate at Brentford, the loss was a low point in his managerial career.

Hughton said: “The game is full of highs and lows, for whatever reason.

“We’re in a difficult place at the moment. What is important is that we come out of it as quick as possible. It’s not a particularly nice feeling.”

The Canaries have a chance to make amends on Wednesday at home to Tottenham in the Premier League, where they sit 13th.

“It’s a big game for us and from where we are right at this moment this game can’t come quick enough,” Hughton added.

“We need everybody pulling in the right direction.

“There are going to be highs and lows in a season. It’s a low period for us, but we’re professional people.

“We are at this moment in a position in the league where we’re three points behind Stoke; most people feel that Stoke have had a good season. We’re a point behind West Ham; most people feel that they’ve had a good season.

“It’s my responsibility to put some confidence back into the team.”

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